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Rev. Earle Fisher speaks to PBS NewsHour

Rev. Earle Fisher speaks to PBS NewsHour

January 29, 2023

Memphis Pastor Discusses Media's Role in Community Response to Release of Tyre Nichols' Video

Ask Students: Why do police killings of unarmed Black men continue to occur across the country and what will it take for these killings to stop?


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Authorities in Memphis and other cities are urging peaceful protests as they prepare for the release of graphic video of the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols. The 29-year-old died this month after police beat him for three minutes following a traffic stop. The five fired police officers are charged with his murder. Geoff Bennett spoke with Rev. Earle Fisher about the Memphis community’s response. For a transcript of this story, click here.


This segment does not contain video coverage of Tyre Nichols being brutally attacked by police. However, the material is sensitive and should be previewed before showing to your class.

Remote video URL

Discussion Questions

  • Who was Tyre Nichols? How does his mother RowVaughn Wells describe her son?
  • What police unit were the officers a part of, and why was this group formed in the first place?
  • When was Nichols pulled over by police? When did he die?
  • How does Rev. Fisher feel about the news media’s response to protests in Memphis?
  • Why do you think RowVaughn Wells wanted to share what her son was like, including how he loved skateboarding and photography?

Focus Questions

Why do police killings of unarmed Black men continue to occur across the country and what will it take for these killings to stop?

What impact does video footage of the beating of Tyre Nichols have on the case of the five police officers charged with Nichols’ death? Why does video footage not guarantee that justice will be served?

Media Literacy

Read Rev. Fisher’s remarks about the mainstream media’ role in the coverage of the attack on Tyre Nichols:

Lastly, I would say I think the air of the city has been impacted by the way mainstream media has couched the developments. I would have loved to see mainstream media outlets say stuff like, Memphis plans for a peaceful protest, as opposed to Memphis is on edge.

When they started reporting at the beginning of the week, I was looking around, because I felt like I missed something. That hadn’t been what was in the air. That hadn’t been what I had felt. That hadn’t been what my colleagues had felt.

Additional Ideas for Reflection

Talk to a family member, friend or teacher about how you are feeling after learning about this story. Ask them questions and share what is on your mind.

You may want to read the article, "Memphis students share feelings with city leaders about Tyre Nichols’ death," to learn about ways a group of students in Memphis decided to take a civic action after discussing Tyre Nichols’ death in class.


The video that accompanies the article shows still shots of Nichols in this hosiptal after being badly beaten. You can explain this to students or just read the article.

Here is an excerpt featuring a long-term substitute teacher in Memphis who discussed Nichols’ death with her class:

When 29-year-old Nichols died after a confrontation with police, Durham said her students had a lot of questions.

She talked with them about police brutality, juvenile crime and constitutional rights.

“They need to know about civic participation. They need to know about civic awareness. They are young, but they are members of this community,” she said.

After watching a news conference with Nichols’s parents on Monday, each student wrote a letter to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and councilman Edmund Ford Sr., expressing how they felt.

Durham said she wants her students to know their voices count, and they have the power to make change.

“I wanted to see their take,” she said. “I wanted to let them know they are included and that we listen to them and see them.”

If you were writing a letter to officials about Nichols’ death, what would you say? What reforms in policing are needed? If you think you might want to send your letter to officials where you live, talk with your teacher or family member who can help you find their email addresses or mailing addresses.

Lessons for Restoring Hope and Dignity

Share My Lesson has assembled this collection of resources to help you as you plan for next week and discuss current events. We will continue to update these resources in the coming days.

For additional support on teaching about race and social justice, the United Federation of Teachers has assembled a list by grade of resources on their website here.

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Classroom.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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